OK, I know I am not going to do this film justice, so please just go see it. See it at the theater, in 3D, they way it was meant to be seen. Do not wait a minute, or you’ll miss it. I’ll also state that this is not a movie review, rather a confession.
I have to admit, I’ve never been much a dance fan. Although maybe its just lack of exposure to the idea of choreography living independent of music. I longed to be a ballerina when I was a little girl (for the tutu not the craft), but thanks to my family’s many moves around the globe, I didn’t actually get involved in the performing arts until I was in junior high… much too late to be “en pointe.”
Until that time, I painted pictures, wrote stories and sang along with my favorite albums in the privacy of my own room, but seldom danced. I’ve always had a keen sense of movement and rhythm, and I certainly learned plenty about dance, but mostly in the context of how composers worked with choreographers (i.e. Tchaikovsky + Petipa or John Cage + Merce Cunningham… music school obviously thought the music was the driver in such collaborations), so i guess I’ve never given myself the chance to fully appreciate the body as an instrument of motion. I never discredited dance as modern art or what not, I just haven’t been thinking about it. Then I saw Pina. I was wrong about everything.
(This is a track written for the movie by Japanese composer, Jun Miyake)
With images, words, music and motion, once they are deliberate, they become art. I think the general public, like me, has had a hard time conceptualizing modern art as physical motion (I’m not talking about ballet or ballroom here people). There is no doubt though that what Bausch creates is art in one of its highest forms, and her deliberate subtle movement-making, dare I say, proves sound to be secondary.
So in terms of the movie… Pina, frames dance in a series of breathtaking vignettes. You see the stylistic choices made by both choreographer and dancer, played out on stage and in life. Director, Wim Wenders, does a great job at showing how, when it comes to the body, a choreographer isn’t bound by the notes in a scale; movement is as boundless as the imagination. The film takes you inside the hearts of the dancers (which match in passion, the intent of the choreographer), and surrounds you with the dance works themselves. Through 3D, you get to see 360 degrees of first person perspective – taking the audience to place far past “spectator”. The works jump off the stage and screen, and envelope you. I would see it again in the theater, a million times over. Please do the same.
Foot notes… Pina Bausch sadly died of cancer in 2009, five days after diagnosis and two days before shooting was scheduled to begin for the documentary, resulting in a film that is as much a planned collaboration between Wenders and Bausch, as an homage and celebration of her contribution to modern dance and to the lives of her dance company.
If you’re headed to Germany make a B-line for Wuppertal and catch a performance of one of her works, by the troop that knows her best. Works by Bausch will also be staged in London this June and July, as a highlight of the Cultural Olympiad preceding the Olympic Games 2012. If you see her work in person, please tell me about it. Make me jealous.
PS. I think its time to give Merce another shot. I’m still saying no to broadway musicals though.